Das Wunder von Bern · Feb 4, 08:12 AM

I’ve been concerned for a while about my ever-weakening German language skills. For example, a year or so ago, a former classmate from Carl-Orff-Gymnasium was in town for an Accenture training and we went out for tapas to catch up. I was incredibly embarassed to find that in addition to having lost vocabulary and making lots and lots of grammatical errors, I was losing my accent! My accent, which I had worked so hard to achieve!

So I asked a German co-worker if he had any films in German that he could lend me. After several weeks and a number of proddings (he’s got Kleinkinder and he’s the only German translator in the building, I can’t really fault him), I arrived at work to find Das Wunder von Bern on my desk. C and I watched it last night…only about 12 weeks after my Mitarbeiter got it to me.

The film is set in post-war 1950s Germany, with most of the action taking place in the industrial Ruhrgebeit. The main story line follows a young boy, fascinated by soccer and the father-figure professional soccer player he follows around, and his father, only just returned from the horrendous conditions of the POW camps in Russia. The secondary story line is of a newly married sports journalist and his wife. The uniting third piece of the plot is the 1954 World Cup, played in Bern, which Germany miraculously wins, helping the nation to regain some of its lost pride.

It has its hokey moments, but a few of the actors are quite good (especially the main character, Matthias) and the depiction of the lingering effects of war on individuals, families and nations is deeply affecting. My particular challenge was not the soccer stuff but to try to understand the Ruhr dialect – so different from what I heard day in and out as an exchange student in the late ‘80s in Bavarian Unterschleissheim.


  1. you could always use your contacts in Eastern Germany to supply German-language material.

    — D in D · Feb 6, 02:59 AM · #